If You’re Not Disabled, Don’t Park There!

Posted: November 2, 2009 in Bobservations

I’ve taken time off from blogging for the last few months because I was taking care of myself with my own self styled mental/emotional therapy.  For fifty years my parents ran a “Mom and Pop” side street grocery store in my home town of Chisholm, Minnesota.  To honor and remember them I have built from memory and a pitiful few photographs, a scale model replica of the store and the attached house.  The project took the better part of two years and was completed yesterday Sunday November 1, 2009.  When I get some pictures taken I will post them. 

As to blogging, there is something that has bothered me for quite some time and that is the fact that there seems to be a great number of people using disabled parking illegally.  As you know I had a heart transplant a little over two years ago.  My new heart is working extremely well and if anything I have more energy than ever before.  Unfortunately I have COPD (chronic oppressive pulmonary disease) which makes it extremely difficult for me to breathe.  Almost any exertion leaves me out of breath so I have a disabled parking permit and use the spaces often.  They are a Godsend when you can’t walk very far.

What disturbs me is the number of people who think the rules don’t apply to them and when it comes to disabled parking they fall into two categories, 1) those without permits that ignore the signs and 2) those that have permits that belong to someone else. 

The first group is easy to deal with.  If you see a vehicle in a disabled space that has neither special license plates nor a permit hanging from the rear view mirror, notify the authorities.  In most cases there is at least a $250 fine for this deliberate violation of the law and of the rights of the disabled.

The second group is more difficult to deal with.  I fully recognized that not every disabled person is in a wheelchair, I’m not so in many cases when I see people hang the tag on the mirror and walk to the store I ignore it.  People deserve the benefit of the doubt.  But, when I see people park, display the permit and then sprint across the lot into a store I get angry.  Too many able bodied people use permits issued to friends or family members.  I know of some people who are using permits that were owned by deceased relatives.  How disrespectful can you be?

Many people who are awaiting transplants but are ambulatory need those spaces.   They are not reserved for lazy people but rather for those who genuinely need to be close because they can’t walk very far.  Many other people who are not transplant candidates also have very serious disabilities that require them to park as near to their destination as possible.  Without disabled parking many people would be forced to either stay at home or face the danger of having to walk farther than they are physically capable of doing.

I was at an art show with my wife recently and I parked in one of the few disabled spaces that were available.  Two burly guys in a pickup truck pulled in next to me in the space reserved for Vans for the disabled and began to sprint away.  I rolled down the window and told them it was not a parking space and that they should move.  They got quite belligerent and after several profanities and hand gestures they grudgingly moved — a half block away.  I’ll bet the walk absolutely exhausted them.

You should do the same.  Challenge people who park illegally, notify the authorities.  The space they occupy may be the one you or a loved one will need someday.

Please comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at bob@baronson.org.  And – spread the word about the immediate need for more organ donors.  On-line registration can be done at http://www.donatelife.net/index.php  Whenever you can, help people formally register.  There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance.  If you convince one person to be a donor you may save or positively affect over 50 lives.  Some of those lives may be people you know and love.  

You are also invited to join Organ Transplantation Initiative (OTI) http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=152655364765710 a group dedicated to providing help and information to donors, donor families, transplant patients and families, caregivers and all other interested parties.  Your participation is important if we are to influence decision makers to support efforts to increase organ donation and support organ regeneration, replacement and research efforts.   

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Comments
  1. Jenn Anderson says:

    I remember when my sister had her lung transplant back in 2001 and she had a disbaled parking permit. We went to the store and she had parked in the disabled parking space only to get yelled at by a man saying she has no right to park there. She had every right and once she showed him her permit he quickly shut his mouth. I have gone shopping several times with my grandma who needs the disabled parking spces and there aren’t any of those spaces free due to people parking there that don’t have a parking pass. It really upsets me as I feel they are there for a reason and the people who need them the most can’t even park near the front of the store because thier space is taken by someone being lazy

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  2. Savilla says:

    My mother is in a wheelchair, and I am very sensitive about this issue. Not just about parking spaces, but public bathroom stalls, too. I was at a lacrosse game with my mom, and at half-time, of course there was a line up in the ladies room. Mom waited just like everyone else, but people kept going into the handicap stall because it was “their turn”. When it was mom’s turn, she had to wait even longer than everyone else because the ONLY stall she could use was occupied. Other doors kept opening, but she had to let able bodied women go ahead of her. I guess it doesn’t occur to people to avoid the handicap stalls, because it’s not illegal to use them. But a little courtesy and respect go a long way. I NEVER use the larger stalls, even if I’m alone in the ladies room. You never know who may need it.

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  3. Ashley Tenczar Curran says:

    This is a great post Bob, as it has been on my mind as well lately. My husband is on a feeding tube, weighs almost exactly HALF what he did last year at this time, (lost almost 100 lbs. due to effects of cirrhosis on blocking the absorption of nutrients) and has aged twenty years.
    He has an unsteady gait, and is so thin, he walks slower, and I am sure you can relate.
    We have not gotten a handicapped liscensce plate yet, but we will be soon.
    In Massachusetts, I do not believe there IS a $250 fine, but there SHOULD BE, and Police Officers should pay more ATTENTION to this blatant disreguard to human sufferring and impetiments.
    If I WERE to call the authorities, as you had reccomended, I would almost get laughed at. In Boston, so many people do so many ridiculous things, handicapped parking violations are the LEAST of their worries, which is sad.
    Also, we live in an Elderly/Disabled Housing Complex, and I see able bodied people, whom I KNOW are not “handicapped”, jumping into their cars, as they use, as you said, their relatives handicapped stickers so they can keep their nice cars closer to the lights and building, (less chance of damage or theft)
    So, in HONOR of your BLOG, I am going to my apartment manager on Monday and my TASK FORCE and I am going to give them a letter asking that they look into this.
    Thanks for the thoughts, keep blogging Bob! (and keep pumping well Bob’s “New Heart” ..
    Ashley

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  4. Bob Aronson says:

    Hi Ashley, thank you for your thoughts. Massachusetts does indeed have very strict laws about disabled parking. Below you’ll find one paragraph from the law:

    1.What can we do about Placard/Plate abuse?
    The law concerning placard fraud and abuse was amended in 2001. The amended law increased the fines for placard abuse and abuse of the disabled parking space. The provision increases the fine for wrongful use of the HP plate or placard from $100 to $500 for the first offense with a mandatory thirty (30) day loss of driver’s license. The fine for each subsequent offense is $1,000. A citation for $500 can be written under Chapter 90 section 2: Handicap Parking Abuse. A responsible finding for the citation will automatically suspend the violator’s license for 30 days.

    If you want more information please visit http://www.mass.gov/rmv/medical/parkingFAQ4law.htm

    Good luck and keep in touch

    bob

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    • I am Bob’s wife and am all about reserving handicap spaces for those who are legally entitled to the space. However, I would like to add a comment from another point of view. This is to the self-appointed ‘handicap parking police’ – those individuals who make a point of fixing an eagle eye on anyone who parks in a handicap space, making a split-second diagnosis of the nature of the handicap, and then bestowing their most disapproving glare on the person that they perceive not to deserve the space. It is legal (according to the DMV) for a non-handicapped person to park in a handicap space and display the permit if they are picking up a handicapped person who will be walking back to the car with them. However, the few times I’ve done this, I’ve gotten so many glares that I feel obligated to limp when I get out of the car. I have also gotten glares if Bob and I have parked in a handicap space and then I have to run out to the car later to get something. My friend Linda, who has MS and drives a motorized cart, was parked in a handicap space one day when her daughter came to the office to pick something up. Linda told her it was in the car and gave her the keys to retrieve it. Later, when Linda left work, she found a scathing note on her windshield that started, ‘young lady, you should be ashamed of yourself…’ and ended by saying, ‘I hope one day you find out what it’s like to really need that space’.

      So yes, there are many people who abuse the space and either blatantly disregard the handicap sign, or display grandma’s permit and then sprint into the store. But please don’t be so quick to judge people who park in the spaces. Often Bob can get out of the cvar and walk into the store at a fairly normal pace, but by the time he’s finished shopping, he’s exhausted and really needs the close parking space. Notify the authorities if you feel that you are justified, but please realize that you don’t know the circumstances under which people may be using the spot and don’t be so quick to pass judgement.

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  5. Withheld says:

    I am a police officer in Texas. I am usually fairly lenient – I don’t write a ton of tickets for minor traffic violations unless the person has continued to commit the violation after already receiving warnings. However, parking in a space reserved for those who are disabled when you are not disabled is one of those things that I write a ticket for each and every time, period. You can accidentally drive a little too fast, forget to use a blinker, roll through a stop sign not clearly visible, and numerous other things …. you CANNOT “accidentally” park in a space reserved for disabled people. It is a willful and wanton disregard not just of the law relating to it, but of those who truly need those spaces. Ticket, EVERY TIME.

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  6. Joanna says:

    I’ve gotten “lectured” many times by do-gooders who tell me who handicapped parking spots are meant for. They are rude and often drive away before I can explain that my daughter has severe respiratory issues and requires less of a walk or less time in the cold air. When they’ve gotten me on a bad day, I let them think we’re all perfectly healthy ;)

    Like

    • Bob Aronson says:

      Hi Joanna, you didn’t say if you had a disabled parking permit or license plate. Certainly that will minimize the “lectures.” As you know being disabled does not allow you to use a disabled space unless you have the permit. From what you said you should have no difficulty getting one. I, too, have severe respiratory disease and have had a disabled permit for several years. Your local vehicle license office has the forms to fill out and all you have to do is to have your doctor sign it and you will get a tag immediately.

      If you do have a permit and you are getting “lectured” remember you are under no obligation to explain to anyone what the disability is. My biggest complaint is with those people who use someone else’s permit to park in a handicapped space and then run at full speed into a store. These people deserve to be fined double or triple the usual amount.

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  7. Ruby says:

    I am not disabled but lost a loved one a year ago that was disabled. It really upsets me when someone uses the spaces and are not disabled. I feel it is very disrespectful to the one that really need the parking spaces.
    What really makes me upset is my employer lets the employees park in the handicap parking without place cards. When i aproach managment they say there is nothing they can do. I told them I could call the police to ticket the illage paring and they said the company frowns on that and it could cause me problems. I am fear that if i did call the police my name would get back to my employer and could cause me problems.
    I feel that there should be a fine to businesses that do not enforce hadicap parking. There should also be a hotline to report illagle parking.

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  8. Bob Aronson says:

    I think that if you had a visit with the police and explained the situation they could keep your name out of it…it’s worth a try. Ask them if that is possible before you reveal who you are and where the problem is.

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    Like

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